This is the second work by Mr. John Banville I have read. The first was said by critics to be "the finest" introduction to this Author's work. I have now completed, "Doctor Copernicus", and can state it is immeasurably better. I have also started his work, "Kepler" and it shows all the same talent that Copernicus held.
Mr. Banville has at his command a wide scope of knowledge together with the talent to know when to put it to use. He places the thoughts of other noted thinkers within his story, so that they are seamless, as opposed to sound bite flourishes. The thoughts of Soren, Kierkegaard, Albert Einstein, and Max Planck all join the writings of Dr. Copernicus, all assembled by Mr. Banville, as needed, appropriate, and without pretense.
Science is too often presented in a manner that the layperson is discouraged from pursuing the information. Historical fiction certainly should not be the only source for fact-finding, but when handled as well as this Author presents the material; it's accessible for anyone that is inquisitive. Copernicus's idea of Heliocentricity, the Elliptical Orbits of the Planets, which is dealt with humorously, and all the trials of defining new science are both readable and enjoyable. Particularly well presented was the whole concept of how theories and published material was viewed by the Scientists in the 16th Century. Did Copernicus believe that his explanation was in fact a picture of reality, or that what he documented merely agreed with what he observed? Sounds a bit dry, but the writing is brilliant.
The last 19 pages entitled, "Magnum Miraculum", are some of the best writing I have had the privilege to read. Life, death, redemption, and a dozen other concepts are presented in a totally original manner, and with an irony that is painful and beautiful as well.
Somewhere else I read that this was the Writer that would bring back the Nobel Prize for Literature to Ireland. The Isle has already brought forth writers who have won the award that has Ireland in the top 10 Countries for the first 100 years of the prize. If the balance of his work is this good, the prediction will become fact.